The hottest ticket in town
Photo By: Mohamed El-Dawlatly
2012 Olympic Games
It is the hottest ticket in town; there are just over 5,000 available each day but they have sold like hot cakes.
“Any tickets available for table tennis please?”
It’s far easier to find a ticket to watch West Ham United, the English Premiership Football Club, a couple of stops further along the Docklands Light Railway.
Tickets for table tennis have been at a premium and at a premium from the very first day; whether it be for the preliminary round of the Men’s and Women’s Singles event, or whether it be to watch the superstars from China extol their skills.
There have been no empty seats in the tribunes.
The crowd is patriotic; undoubtedly they gave Great Britain’s Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker a major lift in the respective Men’s and Women’s Singles events.
Furthermore, when in the team events, Great Britain suffered three-nil defeats in the open round in both male and female competitions there was rousing applause as they left the arena.
Whether aficionados are newcomers to the sport one message is crystal clear.
Everyone in determined to watch the Olympic Games, they are determined to enjoy themselves; they cheer for the underdog, they rejoice in the success of the favourite, they commiserate with those who suffer heartache.
Easy to Understand
The numbers reflect the fact that table tennis is the sport for all.
It’s easy to understand; hit the ball in the net and you lose the point, whack it past your opponent and you win. It doesn’t matter if you are aficionado or first-timer, you can understand what’s happening.
That does not apply to some other sports; for fear of litigation none will be mentioned but some baffle me, I haven’t a clue what’s happening.
Everybody has Played
Table tennis is simple to understand and of those 5,000 or so spectators, somewhere ant sometime everybody’s enjoyed a game of ping pong; perhaps not like Joo Saehyuk, Zhang Jike et al but they’ve enjoyed table tennis.
Furthermore, the crowd has totally ignored political barriers.
“I really felt sorry for that North Korean boy, he played so well”, was the comment I overheard.
When did you ever hear of capitalist Britain supporting communist North Korea?
Yet it happened. Kim Hyok Bong received a standing ovation after narrowly losing to Ryu Seungmin in the clash between DPR Korea and Republic of Korea.
The Best Ever
A fantastic atmosphere has been created, it will live long in the memory; “the best ever, fantastic”, I hear the comment time and again. I am biased, I am a British, I am proud and I agree.
In the ExCeL Arena new levels have been achieved and even though both singles finals were China versus China, the spectators were spellbound.
The human spirited has pervaded and it did the heart good to see 20 young people from Japan, visit the ExCeL Arena on Saturday 4th August.
They were guests of the Japanese National Olympic Committee and all came from the north of Japan, the area devastated in March 2011 by the earthquake and ensuing Tsunami.
Sadly, all lost their families in the distaster.
Seven members of the group were table tennis players; Megumi Chiba, Kaho Chiba and Reina Yamaguchi, three girls, all avid table tennis players, came from Ofunato City in Iwate, Prefecture.
Meanwhile, from Kesennuma City in Miyagi Prefecture came one boy Hiroto Onodera; whilst from Minamisantiku City there was one young man, Ibuki Honma and two girls, Haruna Ise and Miyuki Kato.
Most Wanted Prize
All enjoyed the day as did everyone else and they possessed what many wanted – a ticket for table tennis, a precious commodity!
The group from the Match 2011 earthquake hit area of Japan at the table tennis events
Photo by Monthly World Table Tennis